Archive for June, 2013

Fractastic-Guide-Cover-1A Creative User Guide for the Redfield Fractalius Filter

I am pleased to announce the release of Fractastic – A Creative User Guide for the Redfield Fractalius Filter. It was an honor to be invited by the very talented and highly creative Denise Ippolito to co-write this eGuide. Denise was very instrumental in developing my creative, artistic rendering side.

Fractalius is a Windows only Photoshop plug-in (Mac users will need to run Bootcamp, Parallels or VM Ware to use (please click here to learn more). I have often described Fractalius as addictive and a ton of fun to use. The Redfield Fractalius Filter creates eccentric works of art as it extracts the so-called hidden fractals found within photographs. It is important to note that this filter will react differently from image-to-image based on the hidden fractals present within those images.

A very special thank-you and acknowledgement to both Arthur Morris and Cheryl Slechta for their skillfull editing and proofreading. And also for their image contributions to the Gallery section of this creative user guide.

From Arthur Morris:

Denise Ippolito gave Fractalius a huge boost in popularity about three years ago as moderator of the Out-of-the-Box Forum at BirdPhotographers.net. One of those whom she introduced to Fractalius was Andrew McLachlan who since wrote the popular “Ontario Landscapes – A Photographers Guide” for BAA Books. Denise came up with the idea of teaming up with Andrew to write and illustrate a Fract eGuide more than a year ago. The spectacular result: Fractastic.

In this fantastic eGuide the authors begin by explaining the usually mystifying Fractalius interface in clear, easy-to-understand terms. They even managed to make sense of the Colorize Mode button and the two large Asterisks at the top of the interface. The main body of the guide consists of more than two dozen intriguingly beautiful Fracted images with explanatory notes and screen captures of the settings that Andrew and Denise used to create their artistic works. You can use these settings to replicate the various effects that they have developed. Many of their creations are based on Fractalius pre-sets. The guide will teach you how to effectively apply many of the Fractalius pre-sets and how to create and save your own. The final section is an inspirational gallery of more than 35 superb Fracted images by Andrew, Denise, yours truly, and Cheryl Slechta who helped with the final proofreading.

You can purchase your copy of Fractastic for $27 here or via email to: birdsasart@verizon.net  being sure to note that you are paying for “Fractastic” or by calling Jim at Birds As Art at 863-692-0906 during regular business hours. A download link to Your eGuide will be sent via YouSendIt. Weekend and holiday orders will be fulfilled the next working day.

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Snapping Turtle_20130615_110105Common Snapping Turtle in Beaver Pond

This week’s SmartPhone Snap is a follow-up to the previously posted Turtle-scape. As mentioned in that post, I first came across the snapping turtle as it was lazily basking on the surface of a beaver pond along the path I typically take my dog Koko for a walk, when I am at the family cottage in the Parry Sound region of Ontario. Since the only camera I had with me at the time was the one on my Samsung S2X I decided to tie Koko to a nearby tree and make my way to the edge for a couple of quick snaps. After taking Koko back to the cottage I went back out to the beaver pond for some additional images with the Nikon D800.

Hope you like this week’s edition of the SmartPhone Snap 🙂

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Common Snapping Turtle_7893Common Snapping Turtle at rest on beaver dam, Parry Sound, Ontario

While I was in the Parry Sound region of Ontario last weekend I came upon a very large Common Snapping Turtle floating in a beaver pond while I was out for my daily walk with my dog. Afterwards I decided to return without my dog and this is when I found the turtle basking on the beaver’s dam. Most often in situations similar to this it is difficult to approach the turtles closely, but nonetheless I decided to see if I could make my way in for a turtle-scape with my 24-85 VR lens. I decided to use this lens for its image stabilization feature as I knew I would never be able to get my tripod into position without disturbing the turtle. As it turned out I was able to get quite close and actually sat myself down within 1-2 feet of the turtle. It was so comfortable with my presence that it decided to close its eyes and have a nap, periodically opening its eyes to check me out. Each time the eyes opened I created my turtle-scapes. Above is my favorite.

Common Snapping Turtles evolved roughly 40 million years ago and shared the planet with dinosaurs.I am always reminded of the dinosaurs when I find these reptiles and marvel at how they have survived through the years, including the events that led to the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Sadly, after sharing the Earth with humans for a short period of time they are now listed as a “species at risk’ in some parts of their Canadian range.

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest_7758Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest

I have often found it to be a real challenge photographing hummingbirds and I have certainly never had the opportunity to capture them at the nest. In fact I have only ever seen a hummingbird nest once before. Typically their nests are tiny and very well camouflaged. Check out the Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest here as it is made of tiny pieces of lichen assembled together and virtually undetectable on the Tamarack branch where the nest is located.

Tonight after dinner my neighbors that own a large parcel of farmland down the road from my home called to tell me that they had discovered a Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest in their Tamarack grove. I told them I would be right over. When I arrived they already had a 10 foot step ladder set-up for me. I positioned the ladder about 8-10 feet from the nest and climbed up and waited. Once the female hummingbird came back to sit on the eggs I fired off several bursts of images. Why would I expose bursts of photos, because the hummingbirds move their heads very quickly and I wanted to capture a good head angle and also because I was handholding my gear. Often when handholding for such imagery this is a good approach as the sharpest image will usually be the second or third image in a series…at least that’s how it works for me 🙂

The images in this post were captured using a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 80-400VR lens (the old one) with an ISO setting of 1250 due to the time of day.

Please click on the images to see the larger sharper versions and please let us know which is your favorite and why.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest_7776Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest

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A couple of weeks ago while I was taking my dog Koko for a walk she sniffed out a Killdeer nest at the edge of a gravel laneway leading into one of the soy bean fields adjacent to my home. I have been frequently trying to capture images of the birds but each time I approached the adults would fly way out into the field and begin feigning injury, as they do, to lure me away from the nest. I failed on each attempt. Yesterday as I took Koko for her daily walk after dinner I was delighted to see that three of the four eggs had hatched. When we arrived home after the walk I walked back over to the area where the nest was located and lay down on the gravel. The nice thing about living in a rural area is that it is generally safe to lay down near the road with out getting squashed 🙂  I needed to work very quickly so that the adults would not get too stressed with my presence. After a couple of quick photos of the adults I grabbed three quick images of the hatchlings in the nest and then departed.

Killdeers typically nest in the agriculture fields and along the roadsides near my home as they are ground nesting birds. The baby Killdeers do not stay at the nest for very long. In fact the fourth egg hatch some time after I photographed them and all four babies have left the nest and are running around in the fields with the adults.

Please click on each image to see the larger sharper version of each.

Killdeer Hatchlings_7720Killdeer Hatchlings

Killdeer on nest_7693Killdeer on Nest

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The Cookstown Pub_1

I have decided to start something new here at the blog and I will call it Smartphone Snaps. Recently I ditched my old cell phone, upgraded to a smartphone and am now having a blast (isn’t that what photography is all about anyway) playing around with the camera function of the Samsung S2X and the various apps available for download. I will try to commit to posting a Smartphone Snap on a weekly basis as time permits. What better way to kick off these snaps with a creative capture of The Cookstown Pub located in Cookstown, Ontario not too far from my home. I used the Cartoon Camera app for this image. Simply click the shutter on the phone and let the app do the rest.

As I embark on a learning curve of smartphone photography I will share with you tips and techniques as well as the various apps that I find most beneficial to my needs.

I can’t wait to try this out on Bullfrogs 🙂

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.


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Gray Treefrog_7662Gray Treefrog and Caddisfly

Early last week I could here a couple of Gray Treefrogs chorusing near my home, so I decided to try to locate them and I did. It was most difficult to photograph these frogs as the ponds substrate was very mucky. Often with each step my feet would sink about 12 inches into the mud. Once I was able to position myself close enough to the frogs I would kneel down in the mud to allow myself to be able to photograph from a low perspective. As I worked my way into position for the above image I was initially bugged by the bug resting on the frog’s head and then I thought that this may just make a fun image, so I happily captured numerous frames of this male Gray Treefrog chorusing with the Caddisfly atop its head.

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Spring Peepers_7318Spring Peepers, Parry Sound, Ontario

To follow-up on my previous post regarding Spring Peeper clean-up, there is on occasion when I may find it necessary to perform little clean-up at all. The above image illustrates one such situation. These treefrogs were located far up a sandy bank of the pond among some small twigs. I do not often encounter such interactions between spring peepers and I have never photographed two in the frame with one singing before, so I was delighted to find this very co-operative pair.  As you can see it would be a nightmare to attempt cleaning up the grains of sand from the frog’s skin and I do think the grains of sand and small twigs help illustrate the environment in which these frogs were found. I did perform some clean-up of the flash generated spectral highlights as this is a night-time capture. Night-time is my preferred and most productive time of day for frog photography. Why? Most frog species are nocturnal and are most active at night.

Please click on the image to view the larger, sharper version.

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